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Cornell University Library 
PR 9900.P5R31 

Shadow and solitude :a pla ||J one .^ct 

3 1924 023 417 466 «„,»*» 

Cornell University 

The original of this book is in 
the Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 

A play in one act 


Characters : 

Gabriela - The Wife 

Andres - The husband 

Marina - The sister 

Don Narciso - The uncle 

Luisa ' - The family friend 

The Scene i3 a living room marked by simplicity, good taste, and 
the atmosphere of the cultured middle class'. Door at left leads 
into the clinic and laboratory of Andres; two doors at right lead 
into the bedrooms and, the rest of the house. At rear, center, 
between wide sunny windows, is the main door, which opens into a 
wide hall* 

It is "five o'clock on an April afternoon in 1917 • 

As curtain opens, Andres sits reading, Gabriela sits knitting, and 
Don Narciso is Just coming in through the main door. 

Good afternoon, Tio Narciso I 

(rising and making a gesture tcr kiss the older man's hand): Hola, 
Tio Narciso. 

What news, children? I have come to be informed-. And Marina — 
Where is she, 

Very busy with her patients. Oh* she hasn't been, still a minute 
since she came back. Everybody, who is sick wants to have her, 
especially the menfolk. I do believe some of them even pretend to 
be ill. You hasre no idea how popular she is. 


« And how was her vacation in Zamboanga?. 

Just wonderful. She has come back looking gorgeous — and 
with such a lovely color. Don't you think so, Andres? 

(dryly) I really hadn't noticed. 

And you, Andres — how did you get that scratch? And how is 
your heart, Gabriela? Now, look — one must not trifle with 
the emotions; the human heatt is most untrustworthy. And 
\at any moment at. all... Oh, all right, all right~.-I am 
"'glad it was nothing. But, caramba, it seems to be the talk 
of the town. Look Andres — would you like to tell me how it 
all began? 

■>"> ANDRES 

Quite simply. Last night, at the club, that scoundrel of a 
Flores thought fit to amuse his friends by hinting that... 
Oh, nothing; A vile slander! The kind of rumor that's so 
nasty you could nhoke people for uttering it. . But you know 
how It is here in Manila. There's so much mud-slinging no 
reputation can consider itself safe. 

D. NARCISO :■ . 
But what was the rumor? Tell me. ' .- 

It's .unspeakable'. 


Oh, tell him, Andres. Why worry, No sensible person be- 
lieves it. 

Well— -the rumor is that between Marina and me... Oh it's 
outrageous 1 You know what I mean, TIo Narciso. 

yes, yes, I understand. And Flores dared to imply that? 
Without any basis? 

To vilify Is not difficult. And one can always invent a 
reason to Justify oneself. Well — I grabbed him by the neck 
as soon as I heard what he was saying. I was so blind with 
rage I- didn't even notice he had knifed me. 

' - . • - 2 - 

And those who were present? ^ 

They separated us . 

I mean, how did they take what Flores said? 

Well, you can imgine. A few seemdd to be shocked. But 
the others — the majority — could hardly conceal , their de- 
light. Naturally. A new topic for gossip, another home 
for the brutes . 

2nd Gabriel? 

—Oh, she had already been informed of the incident, by 
telephone, even before I came home from the club. And so 
she had this heart-attack which could have cost us so much 
anguish. You know how excitable she is. Fortunately it was. 
nothing serious. 

, If these scandalmongers would only think of the harm they 
- do* - 

It is good not to give occasion for gossip. 


But even better not to pay any attention to it. Let them 
talk. What else can we do? The world lives on slander and,-= 
like Satura§.ydevours its own children. 

Let us be fair, .Andres . Gossip often serves the cause of 
morality. The fear of what they will say is like a sword 
of Damocles and stops us from committing a lot of follies. 
Ultimately, .gossip is a necessary evil. However, the world 
usually does not molest you — unless you defy it first. 

And who is defying it? 

What do you mean,- Tio Narciso, 

That we are all slaves of convention; and that if we wish 
the world to leave us alone, we must act according to those 
conventions . The world has its rules — 

Its prejudices, you mean. 

Perhaps. But what do you call, so disdainfully, prejudices? 
Ideas which may have become somewhat old-fashioned but which 
were new once, and which are, perhaps, more worthy of our 
respect than these ideas now in vogue, these new ideas whose 
novelty enraptures a handful of idiots. Do not despise any- 
thing because it is old, Andres. There are certain princi- 
ples the splendor of which endures, no matter what unheavals 
the world may suffer, like those' cliffs which resist the 
blows of the lightning. 

As an orator and a sophist, you are certainly not middling, 

Hombre, as an orator, I will not say that I am not capable, 
every now and then of spouting a fine peroration; but as 
for being a sphist, I would say that he fits the role bet- 
ter who insists that the world should not be what it is: 
prejudices (as you would say), conventionalism, social con- 
siderations — all the things that, together, make life, not 
the life we dream of but this life we live. : 


(smouldering) And are we to resign ourselves to carrying 
this yoke, sacrificing our ideas and our sentiments? A fine 
theory! If it depended on- you, sir, we would still be in 
fig leaves 1 

Andres is right. 

We who are just plain nobodies should let the world run its 
natural course, until the operation of chance, or some other 
stronger element, pushes it into a new direction^. If anyone 
rashly tries to alter the course of the world out of mere 
vanity or presumption. . .or to justify a folly... it will be 
merely justice should he be crushed to death. And there, are 
certain acts which, in any kind of society, constitute a 
brazen provocation which oo society should tolerate. 

(visibly stuhg) But of what am I accused by this society 
which you seem to represent at this moment? Of believing 
the way I do? Let me say that if I should ever find myself 
caught in a conflict between the dictates of society and 
those of my own conscience, I would follow what my conscience 
commanded— and society can go to. . .to wherever it pleases 1 
Why not speak plainly, Tio Naricso? 

For God's sake, Andres, don't lose your temper* 

If you think I have come to investigate your actions, Andres, 
you are .foolishly mistaken. I was speaking of people in gene* 
ral and. of no one in particular. 

That's right, Andres. Tio Narciso did not mean to offend 
you.. He was merely teasing you— as usual. But you have 
made yourself so nervous-. Hny should you care what other 
people think as long as I am sure of your love? 


That you, Gabriela — you're right. You're only one who should 
judge me. And as long as you do not say that I do wrong, I 
can be confident that my behaviour is without reproach. 

(aside) An excellent ideal ' 


Andres loves me very much, Tio Narciso, and he will never 
be capable of stabbing me here. This heart is too sensitive 
and fragile. He knows that, he is a doctor— don't you, 
Andres, Between you and deception stands this fortress. 
You know how weak it is. But on it I rely, because I know 
you would never darw to storm it if you saw you wore destroy- 
ing it... 

That's onough, that's enough. Don't say anything more. 
You can be tranquil onthat score. 

(aside) Something grips her in tho heart... Poor Gabriela I 

Vory well, I'll leave you a monfont— but, careful, no quar- 
reling, eh? 

Wbare^are you gfcing Gabriela? 

To the hosgital, to visit Chafdto Medina. I've just heard 
she had another attack. You know that she and I suffer 
from the same sickness. And it looks as if this time the 
poor dear is going... Would you like to come with me to 
the hospital, Tlo Narciso; 

Why not? 

Then wait here just a moment, and while you and Andres are 

straightening up the world — or upsetting it I'll go out 

to |he garden and cut a few roses for Charito. Haven't you 
noticed, Tio, Narciso, that my roses are in bloom? They are 
a heavenly sight. How about you, Andres— will you be coming 
with us to the hospital? 

(irritable and uneasy) Yes, yes, darling. You better hurry, 
it's getting late. (Exit GABRIEIA through front door. ANDRES 
moves towqrd his laboratory.) Do make yourself at home, Tio 
Narciso. And you'll have to excuse me, I have to go and bury 
myself in my clinic. There's a very urgent case I have to 
study. I don't believe I can accompany you to the hospital. 
With your permission, sir. 

Very well, don't let me keep you. But, frankly, I came to 
have a few words with you — if that is not too much of a 

I waited until Gabriela hdd left us alone. She must not know 
anything. It would be criminal to rob that hapless woman of 
her illusions. She is so in love with you, so blindly in 

love. And for her — a romantic and a sentimentalist 

the blow could be fatal. But that is how she has been brought 
up— for a good love, a good home, a good life, nothing more. 
She is not strong enough to grapple with the difficulties of 
modern life, like you, or like Marina.. ., 

(mockingly) Yes, yes — you don't have to continue, I know 
what's coming. I am a 'practical man and I always see the 
point at "once. Are you one of those who have been throwing 
to the greedy dogs of society this bit of home to crunch? 

- 6 - 

: D. NARCISO. '■■-'<■» ,h * 

You are insulting me, Andres. If this matter did not in- 
volve these orphans, these daughters, of my only sifeter, I 
would not waste my time here. I expected, before I Came, 
that I would be a mere voice crying in the wilderness* 

But you seem to be just as airid as everyone else, sir, to 
lick up this latest piece of smut. , : 

■'"' Dv'NaRCISO 
A little more decency, 'Andres. Your house is not a brothel... 

Oh, come nowi sir— just why have you, come? To lecture me on 

how to behave?" 

* , , /_ ■ - 

No, but on something more important*, how to live among de- 
cent people. A. fince scandal you have raised; and you have 
dragged down not only your name but the dignity of other 
people — a dignity that deserved all your respect, since you 
had so little respect for you own. I cannot ask you not to 
have mistresses; that is ■something; only your conscience can 
decide. But have you become so heartless, so unscrupulous, 
that you could corrupt this. ; girl who should have been sacred 
to'you, because she is the sister of your wife and, therefore, 
your own sister? " Marina— 

Lies, lies, lies J How is it possible that you can join these 
people so envious of our position and our happiness that they 
are now spitefully trying to destroy my home? 

(contemptuously) You have destroyed your home, hypocrite! 

You can think .what you will of me, sir- But you can do 
nothing, because Gabriela believes in me and has faith in 
my love. You would not dare to kill her with a lie.; 

Stop clowning! (Solemnly} I*n the name of my forefathers, 
who lived and died with honor, and of all my kinsmen, who 
are bound to keep intact that heritage of honor, I demand 
that you make reparation — no, not reparation; that is not 
possible, for how can water thrown into a pigsty be made* 
clean again?.— but a stop, yes; a stop to your madness, by 

wearing a strait jacket if necessary, for the good of all of 


- 7 - 

VLB, and to save Gabriela, who, if she should discover your 
iniquity, would die of horror and shame. And I do not speak 
of a metaphorical death. She would actually die— and don't 
you doubt it. 

Enough of lies, enough of liesl It's easy to make an accu- 
sation but it's not enough to point one's finger. Where are 
your proofs? Youhear a piece of gossip and start raging. I 
beg you, sir, to quiet your nerves and believe in my innocence. 

That is why I came — to convince myself that you had sunk so 
low.' Unfortunately > it is" useless to plead innocent. I have 

Then tell me, sir, what they are. 

said D. NARCISO 
I should not have/proofs — since there is only one, although 
it is worth a iot, because it is a living proof, a vital 
proof.... Shall I go on, The fruit of your iniquity! 

Oh, that is false, Don Narciso 1 . Go forgive you and all 
thpse who join you to slander me! 

Ask forgiveness for yourself, you need it. I will not sfcay 
more. You will soon crash to the ground, for you are walking 
on a lightrbpe and you are a poor acrobat. (Andress flees 
into his clinic as DON NAR€ISQ goes toward front door, where 
he encounters MARINA entering, in her nurse's uniform.) 

Good afternoon, Tlo Narciso. Are you leaving? 

(drily j already outside) Yes, but I'll be back at once. 
Goodbye . 

at right, with a sheaf of roses in 
her arms . ) 

(placing roses on the table) Where's Tio Narciso? 

- 8 - 

When I arrived, he was just leaving. He looked mAd. 

The usual row with Andres, over Ideas. They can't seem 
to. agree on anything. Well, and how was It at the hospital? 

There was no scandal? They say her father almost killed her. 

(indifferently) No, no scandal. 

I am shocked by the nerve of these modern girls. But with 
this freedom to go out alone whenever they piease, this 
mixing of the sexes in the schools' (co-education, they call , 
it),' these provocative movies — what other result can you 

Young people in other countries enjoy greater freedom, but 
the atmosphere there is all security and confidence. This 
free air nowadays seems more healthy and wholesome than the 
cloistered safety of our grandmothers. The girls of today 
are learning to be strong. 

Very strong indeed. We see now in what their strength (consists. 

If they fall, it is because they want to. 

I see no difference between stumbling on purpose and stumb- 
ling by accident. You twist your ankle just the same, or 
maybe break a. leg, and that is what we try to avoid. And 
thatgltfls of today seem to be more steady... We were 
educated differently in the old days. 

How one is educated does not matter. There haVe been cases 
of "stumbling" too, among girls who never stepped out of 
their houses.. And that was in the old days, under the old 

Yes, I know. But not In such alarming numbers. Those were 
isolated cases, products of the human condition. These of 

- 9 - 

today have become a plague. And if it's true that many of 
these girls, to save their honor, result to criminal means... 
Ugh, how horrible! That's where all this progress and modern- 
ity have bf ought us. and the sad thing, is that nobody se^ms 
eager to correct the situation, 

Now, don't start blaming the system of education. Falling 
into film, does not form part of the curriculum. 

What's wrong is that there is too much laxity, and not enough 
religious* training-'- and so we have indecency and shameless- 
ness. The decay of our customs is a consequence of this 
lack of balance. Perhaps that is considered good in other 
x/ countries, but here the effect one sees is disastrous. It is 
too Bareign to our traditional upbringing, to our way of life. 
And ^hen these countrymen of ours are so. prone to exaggeration; 
when they start copying, they turn into unhappy caricatures; 
of their models. It's really amazing: this talent of ours for 
imitating precisely what is bad. 4s Tio Narciso once remoteked, 
when it comes to importing new fashions, our policy is free 
entry for the. bad, a high tariff for the good. 

The remarks of Tio Narciso have an absolute authority for you. 
You repeat them as if they were Holy Scriptures . I prefer 
to think and to act on my own account. 

They are not just remarks, Marina. They are maximes, old 
proverbs that carrja the folk wisdom of our fathers. Who 
will not listen to them goes through the sea of life on a 
rudderless boat, adrift, and in peril of shattering against 
the first rock. 

Just a carbon copy of Tio Narciso 1 

(Enter LUISA through the. front 

Good afternoonl 
Hola, LuisaJ 


Luis a, you here? A miracle! 

- 10 - 

How goes every thing here? I heard that Marina has- just 
returned from Zamboanga, and I have come to. greet her- Oh, 
and also, like a good friend of all of you, to learn Just 
exactly what happened at the club last nigh;b. 

Oh, nothing. Andres got a scratch. I had a, little scare. 
It's ovdr now. It all started with a joke by that rascal 
of a Flores. And now you know everything. 

Well, I'm glad it was nothing. (To MARINA) How you have 
treated me, you wicked girl 1 . Five months away and not even 
a post card. When you suddencly left for Zamboanga,- every- 
body was surprised — naturally, since you didn't tell any 
of your friends. And how was it down there? You must have 
liked it, to have been able to stand five months of that 
boring banishment. Do you mean to go back? 

Who knows? 

Luisal How are you? 


(Enter ANDRES from left) 

Fine, .Andres, thank you. (To MARINA) How about sweethearts- 
any news in that department? 

Oh, stop' teasing me. Sweethearts, indeed.. I don't have 
.the time nor the talent for that sort of silliness. 

You know how she is, Luisa. Romance does not interest her. 
That is where she and I differ. She thinks I am silly, and 
old-fashioned, and maybe she is right. 'I'm only seven 
years older than she is, but we are half a . century apart 
in the way we regard life. 

As for me, I have chosen the middle course, and nothing 
"Ban make me budge from there. I represent the transition — - 
half Gabriela half Marina — a compromise between two vicious 
extremes. I am not all heart like Gabriela, nor all brains 
like Marina. For the heart, Marina, must also be given its 

- N ll - 


Marina will give her heart iris due when the messenger she 
awaits knocks on her door. In the meantime, none of these 
silly fantasies which are so useless. She has received a 
puactical education, this modern "education that is going to 
make us strong, that will teach us to overcome everything 
and everybody, to attain a certain ideal in this life. 

Andres has an answer to everything. He is a fine doctor 
but .he would have made an even finer lawyer. For him, 
there is no lost cause; when he wants to, he can defend, 
with equal ardor and ability, both sides of an argument.. 
When he was making love to me, for instance, and when we 
were first married,, he was arguing in'a different manner. 

I was not speaking of us, Gabriela. With you, I am always 
the same; we have passed the formative years. I was referring 
to 'the youth of today, and of the need to give them a strong 
education, so that they may learn to depend on themselves. 

But there's a lot of egoism in this' education that you praise 
so much. 

And why shouldn't there be? Happiness is egoism. I know 
that you'll ask in a burst of charity: And what about other 
people? Well, let them find their own happiness and be egoists 
too. By this method, the time will come when everybody, without 
any exception, will be happy— and what will it matter then 
if they are egoists? :.s a matter of fact, nothing will be 
lift of egoism except our name for it, since in a worldwhere 
happiness is the common lot, everyone will hwve just whtthis 
neighbor has and— 

And until that time, what? Is it not Just that those who 
have achieved happiness should lend, as it were, some of 
their happiness to others? 

In that case, the method will lose its efficacy, for either 
this method is rigorously applied or it is not applied at 
all. There is always, too much cunning and not enough desire 
to work; and if you start lending, or giving away happiness, 
'few people will trouble to struggle for it. There will be 

- 12 - 

in this, as in everything else, a lot of cadgers and beg- 
gars — don't you doubt it. But shut the door on these 
parasites and they will be in the struggle, of course, but 
others will rise to take their place — and always they will 
be moving closer to the ideal: each and everyone with 
Mtfc-own share of happiness. Let's stop calling this world 
"§: Galley of tears." Actually, it is a battlefield, and 
it belongs to the strong ones., to Caasar and Alexander, 
and not to the weeping ones, like Job or Jeremiah — or that 
Moorish king BoaBdil, who lost Granada because all he could 
do was weep. 

Say what you. will, this world will always be for me'-the 
abode of the unfortunate. There will always be more people 
conquered than conquering. I prefer my Christian ideal: - 
to share what I haveS with others . 

Fundamentally, this charity of yours is egoism. You would 
like to be the custodian of happiness, ' so that you can 
administer and distribute it as you. please, keeping, of 
course, the lion's share for yourself.... But haven't we 
drifted^ away .from our original topic? Let me see now... - 
yes, we were talking of a practical education. These 
"fantastical" girls who spend their time chasing the dra- 
gonflies of tt their dreams are* in constant 'danger of 
bumping their noses against that big hard post of life; 



Jesus , Andres, don't say that I "The ones who are always 
bumping hard and getting the ^iggest bumps are precisely 
these modern tomboys of yours . 

Or tomcats. It's all the same. 

That tongue of yours, Luisa, that tongue of yours. 

Tomboys or tomcats — what's the difference? The fact is 
that the virtues of yesterday are now down on the ground. 

Or up in the clouds. Anyway" they are not where they should 
be— in people. 

- 13 - 

you two are terrible! 

All right, we have chattered enough and... Luisa, what 
have you heard about Gharlto? 

I hear^ she is in a very serious condition. 

I just came from there. The doctors have given up hope 1 

Oh, poor dear, I must go. see her right away. Will you 
comd with me Andres? 

■■* ;: 

I'd like to, ^Gabriela, but I have to finish studying a 
clinical case tonight. 

Oh, I see. Will you excuse, me, Luisa? 

Of course, dear. Don't be so formal. 

I'll see you soon. v "■'■• 

(Exit GABRIELA with her roses.) 

This Gabriela never changes. -She seems to live in a world 
apart— a world of goodness and illusions. But you, Marina-- 
every day you become more aloof and less communicative', and 
your friends have reason to be worried. 

But yhat you're doing, Luisa, is inexcusable. 

(startled) What? 

Not coming here more often, where you know you have friends 
who appreciate you., 

-i i, 

That's xtefcy true. 

Well, thanks— but you have set the example. Look, one of 
my brothers got married "today and you people were cons- 
picuous by your absence,. 

You will have forgiven us already. You know why we could 
not come. And nasty coincidence. 

Jfes, I guessed that was the reason. Everyone already knew 
last night. That sort of news travels faster than sound. 

Oh, this society of ours is intolerable 1 The peace of our 
homes seems to dejbend on whether some blackguard wakes up 
in good or bad humor. The smallest spark that e charlatan 
happens to let drop, instantly bursts, into flame, and 
before you know it, you are caughtr in the midst of a raging 
fire. It's only here that people have to live so closely 
spfeed upon. The day may come when it will be necessary 
to appear at the window very early in the morning to ask 
of each passdrby: "Listen, my good man, is it all right 
for me to live? Do you give your permission?" Ah, all 
this is very depressing, Luisa. Well, I must leave you 
alone with Marina for a moment. With your permission? 

Certainly, my lofd* 


(Exit ANDRES at left.) 

Well, now we are alone, Have you anything to tell me? 

How can you ask? You know that when two women meet, 
they always have so much to tell each other they could 
talk a horse's head off. 


Oh, let's leave the head on the poor horse and talk about 
ourselves. What, have you got a sweetheart? 

- 15 - 

My dear 'g irl s y° u don't know what it means to have a sweet- 
he-art, just a single one, in these days of general scarcity. 
No mac^ proposes and only God disposes, as they say, The 
situation. is desperate. 

Really? Frankly, I had no idea. You know the matter does 
not dEEKE interest me. Why, what ails the enchanted king- 
dom of the romantics? , 

Well, the main trouble is that it has become difficult to 
find young men who are worth the trouble. Oh, a few daz- , 
zle by their elegance, but pluck off a few feathers and you 
find some very anemic chickens'. Spiritual anemia, I mean. 

Do be serious, Luisa. 

Well, then, let me tell you that there's a lot of false 
gold around. ; The genuine varieties are not in circulation 
I mean, you never see them at dances or gatherings, which 
are the marts where the gypsies of our society go to hawk 
the virtues of their damaged merchandise., 

Whether you speak mockingly, or seriously, you are not only- v 
just as good as Andres and Tio Narciso at tongue-lashing, 
but you leave blisters too. So, you are still hot in the 
pursuit of— 

No, truly— not any more. I, have a sweetheart. And he is 
pure gold, of the kind that's not in circulation, and which 
it is as rare a s fortune to find as ancient coins* 

May one know .who he is? 

I don't see why not. You/ know I have no secrets from you: 
and, besides, there's no reason to keep it secret. .He is 
Arturo, the poet. 

You're not Joking? Because it seems to me that a poet, at 
the rate things are going — 

: [\ '■ - 16 - 

My ideas are different, Marina* 

I can see you are in love and I won't say anything more. 
One cannot argue over love. The lovers are always right. 
So, congra tuitions 1 And what-<-you love each other? 

Very much, with a ve'ry sweet love — fehe love of two souls 
that understand each other; that delight in the same spirit- 
ual food, and that spar as one into the infinite, embarrassed 
by no earthly fetter. 

You haven't been able to escape infection, 
a poet. 

You talk like 

I'm so happy with this love. I have even convinced myself 
that I am no longer myself but another— the very soul of 
Arturo • 

Well, well, well — up in the clouds. And here's wishing 
it will be a long time before you land. 

Don't you worry* And how about you? You're the same as 
always— very secretive about yourself. We who are your 
friends know nothing about you. Well, do we hear all 
these things — what they say about you and Andres, which 
of course, we do not believe. But, look, people are 
gossiping and they say you are too independent and that 
this modern education you have had is no protection against 
the violence of passion. 

Let them talk. 

Gossip soon loses its hews ifcalue. 

All right— but what, actually, is your life? 

My life? As you see: indifferent as life itself. I have 
learned to live it in my own way, without great illusions, 
to spare myself the disappointments that ambush us at 
every turn. It's a life that you would call dull, but 
which I would not change for 'any other. 

- 17 - 

Ah, "but I want a life of great Joys and great sorrows, for 
the soul fulfills itself as much in pain as in pleasure. 
Life with its honey and its gall, its cruelties and its 
consolations— -that is the life I want to have. My soul 
was made for r§.ge and rapture but not for indifference- 
no, never, for indifference 1 . 

And may such a life make you happy, Luisal 


Thank you, dear friend. And now I must go. Say goodbye 
for me to Andres, .and to Gabriela when she comes back. 
And when are you coming to the house? 

When you least expect me. Give my regards "to your mother. 

She shall receive them. Goodbye, MStrina. 

Goodbye, Luisa. 

Ah, you are alone? 


(Exit LUISA, accompanied to the 
door by MARINA. Enter ANDRES * 
as MARINA turns away- from the 
door . ) 


(instantly moving away): Yes, Luisa just left. 

( anxiously ) Marina I 

What is it, Andres? Speak, for God's sake! You make me 
nervous. Has anything happened? 

Yes. Don*t you know? 

What? j 

- 18 ** 

Fate has begun to pursue us. Now more than ever, we should 
stand as one to defend our love from everything. 


God I What are you saying? Has Gabriela found out? 

Gabriela, no* 

But she- suspects? 

Nothing. But the dogs that go hunting for scandals in the 
streets and the clubs are now barring at our door- Gabriela 
will become alarmed, and then will follow suspicion — • and 
suspicion is worse than certainty. He who knows the truth 
be it, sweet or bitter, is «at rest. But suspicion is a sea 
without shores, a sea wracked by the worst of tempests, a 
wild sea raging in the skull. I am undisturbed, but I fear 
for you. Your love must not be frightened into flight when 

1 need it most. 

You don't know whit I go through. Since. I came back, I 
have not been living. When I go out to the street or when 
I enter those houses where my services are needed— always 
those same eyes that fix me with a prying or a malicious 
look; always those same scarcely veiled hints... And all 
this inquisition torments me; in vain I pretend to be in- 
different; and I would gladly abandon mankind and go live 
with the beasts, who seem kinder, or bury myself sixty 
miles under the earth! 

You were educated to be strong to rise above these monkish 

Of no use has that education been to me. Gabriela is right. 
I was arguing with her just a moment ago, because I wanted 
to bolster my own spirit, but in vain. How many times have 
I Invoked that spirit so that it might say to me: You did 
well to sacrifice others for the sake of this Ideal of your 
life. But I was merely deceiving myself, like a sacred 
child wistling as he walks past a graveyard at night. No 
Andres— a soul is not re-educated in a couple of years, es- 
pecially when, like ours, it was forged by three centuries 
in the heat of the ancient principles i This new education 

- 19 - 

is a costume that is too big or too small for us, that 
bursts at the seams the moment we are careless or that 
flaps loosely in the wind, revealing us as we really are. 
Fools and boors applaud us, but we are the laughing stock 
of the prudent. ' > 

It's not that, Marina. What ha happened is that you 
have been so crushed by all the prejudices in the air about 
us that you now think it easier to turn your back on the 
enemy. It would be__ dismal to let what i^hey say prevail 
over the voice of our conscience. 

My conscience has spoken, Andres; it has already' judged 
me, and it condemns me. 

That conscience is not yours, Marina, but of the people who 
have been waging war on your spirit and have now- succeeded 
in making it say these preposterous things. We must 
fight, Marina — fight! 

No, Andres, it is madness. This is their camp; we are the 
intruders, the imposters. We cannot throw them out" be- 
cause they are right. It is madness to fight— madness ! 

They are not strong, Marina. They are shadows, phantoms — 
nothing more. We are the light,, because we are reality, 
which is the only truth in life. : Tradition is obsolete,, 
the shadow of the past, the ghost of the night. It will 
fade away as soon as the, dawn breaks again on your cons- 
cience. It can scare only babies. 

Say what you will, You are a man and you're wise and 
you can argue better than I. But it is not the mind that 
should speak now— not the mind, which is cunning and cor- 
rupt EHpi which creates paradoxes and mixes truth with 
falsehood— but the conscience, which alone knows how to 
speak the tru^h. My conscience has spoken, Andres, and 
it says that 'I have trespassed on other people's affections. 

'- . ANDRES - ■ .. , 

God, Marina— that is the voice of the siren! Do not 
listen Jo it! 

- 20 - 

MARINA . • - 

We have strangled without pity the happiness of another 
person, of Gabriela, and your own happiness, ,too, for the 
joy I gave you was false,. The truth is the love of Gab- 
riela, the true love of your love. 

You're ravingi The only truth in my life is your love. 
Gabriela is good, but she has nBVer understood me. Never 
between her and me was that fusion of ' thought and feeling 
which is the secret,, of happiness,. I have always lived in 
her heart like a stranfeer. But I called to your hSart • * 
and I found my true home there, and,iB&3fcBJB3sfeEE£Hc now I „ 
know that I cannot live unless I live in your life. Nature 
refuse to recognize my union with Gabriela, but if has 
blessed our lpVe, your love and mine," with a son,_our son 

For God's sake, Andres — don't ravish my heart, which has 
been the cause of so much misfortune! The f heart is selfish — 
and I no longer wish to be so . The time has come to make 
amends. I will do penance for you, for both of us, but go 
back to Gabriela while there is^time. Let us not make our 
crime worse with our wilf ullnes's . ' I have my son, and I 
ishall live for him, for him alone. 

We shall* both live for him. I will do penance, if God 
wills it, but at your side — beside you and the child of 
our, loins, of our two souls fused in the fire of love! 
What do we care about other people? 

Don't be cruel, Andres. We have bden cruel enough. 

It would be more cruel to part from eapb other, because 
our union is the happiness of our son/ Rather than be 
cruel to him, let us be cituel to others. Yes. Marina, 
life is cruel; we cannot remedy that. If you're in a 
shipwreck, it's lawful to kill to save yourself 'or to 
save those you love. Think of' our child. Look: the 
caravan of the happy is passing at this moment. Let us 
Join it, bearing our child like a trophy,. and forget 
everybody else. May they forgive us I Let us/ run away 
from here! 

No, Andres! No-'l It is a crime! Oh, fear the justice 
of God! 

- 21 - 

Turn your eyes away from the shadows and look there, in 
the distance — life "triumphant . . .the future. . .our son. . . 


Yes, our. son, my little Andres... He bears your name my 

son... Yes, we must save him, we must save him first I We 
must be ruthless for the sake of .our son.... Where are you, 
Andres? I can't see you... I'm troubled, I'm afraid. 

Here I am; fear nothing, for nothing is stronger than 
love. And should evil break your spirit or the spirit of 
my son, I wpuld destroy' my own soul first. Marina, come 
to my arms (Embracing her) Like this; always together) 

For me, Andres— —only for me I 

Yes, for you, only for you and for your son* 

(As the stand clasped together 
speaking those last words, GABRIELA 
appears in the front door, stares 
a moment at the lovers, then sways 
and presses a hand to her heart 
and silently withdraws, unnoticed 
by the lovers.. ) 

(suddenly and savagelyftbreaking away) No, .Andres— stop 
it! God will punish us 1 

God has willed it. If he is Just, he will not punish us. 

£todres, please I Do not mock at God, n§* he may -punish 
us through our son. Let us be willing to sacrifice ourselves 
so that our son may live and be happy. 


I can't go on without you. I have had no life of my own 
since you became my life. You never loved me, -Marina I 

- 22 - 


.. MARINA , 
You will know the greatness of my love when you understand 
the greatness of my sacrifice. Andres, the hours of plea'-* 
sure are over. Let us think no more of ourselves; let us 
think of our son and how we may apare him from evil through 
repentance and, sacrifice. If I did not have' him, I would... 
who knows? But I an the mother of my son rather than the 
lover of Andres . . 

The shadows have you in their power againl 

Shadows 1 If only you were right V But even if you were, I 
know that, for the sake of my son, I must deny myself, 
immolate myself, offer myself in expiation. And if you 
love me, as you say, you, too would share this holocaust. 

We can offer another, vittim and God would accept her! 

That's enough! This is your selfishness speaking. Now 
is the time to be strong for ,thls is the -hour of sacrifice. 
If you are seared, Aridres, leave me alongl 

Marina 1'. 

Leave me alone 1 

Marina 1 

No, Andres 1 Go away I 

I shall wait. 


(resolutely) No, Andres — never{ 

(Exit ANDRES at left. Marina sits 
down and bursts into tears, covering 
her face with her hands. Then she 
rises andwwalks toward right as 
one of the doors there opens and 
GABRIELA enters,, looking exhausted.) 

- 23 - 

(alarmed} . My God'. What's the matter, Gabriela? What 
has happened to you? 

Nothing... A shock... Charito is dead. I saw her die. 
That scene at the hospital... No, nothing. Will you 
fetch me a glass of water? Where is Andres? Don't 
tell him anything. 

(Exit MARINA, returning at once 
with the glass of water.) 

Here it is. I put some, lemon in it. 


9 (As MARINA sits down beside her 

sister, there's a moment's 
awkward silence, broken only 
by GABRIELA's labored breathing.) 

I feel better. Stand up, Marina. (Marina rises) Stand 
back a little. That's enough. (She gazes admiringly at 
MARINA) You have a figure. And such poise. (With 
a touch of admiring envy) And that uniform accentuates 
your slenderness. And that coiffure suits you perfectly; 
makes you look like an angel. How men must feel when they 
look at you...Qn the other hand, Just see how dowdy I 
have become, (StBdgting herself pityingly) I look like a 
sack of potatoes. When I married, I didn't look so awful. 
But now .... 

(interrupting) You were lovely and you still are. 

(hardly noticing the interruption) I stopped taking care 
of myself to take care of this house, and to make Andres 
happy, in my own way, and I have failed. I learn too late 
that, when a woman marries, she should not only become a 
wife but should go on being a sweetheart, to keep the fire 
of love burning. Sit down, Marina-*- no, closer. You 
know what? (MARINA stares at her with anxiety and f ear. ) 
Ijfc's fouy years today that Mama died and now we hardly 
remember her. How impious we are! This day,, which should 
have, been sacred to her memory, I had intended to pass very 
gaily — and God has punished me by sending me this sorrow. 
How true is the old saying that a -daughter do£s not begin 
to pay the debt of love she owes her mother until she be- 

- 24 ~ 

-comes a mother herself. And I'm not a mother 1 . God has 
not wanted me to pay the full price of love I should have 
paid to my mother. (Beginning to weep) Marina, do you 
remember Mama? 

Why not? But don't go on like this. You'll make your- 
self ill with these thoughts. We will feay a ro«ary for 
Mama and she will be pleaojd. And you will feel a great 
relief, you will stop wo-"vying. 


(not listening to MARINA) Poor dear, how she loved us 

and you especially. I remember everything as if it were 
yesterday.. .Papa would buy u-'j toys; you had yours and I 
had mine, so we' wouldn't fircht. But you always wanted 
my toys too, and when I wouldn't give them up, you cried, 
and Mama would scold me and take away my toys and give 
them to you, and she would tell me that you were younger 
and that I should always give in to you. Then I would creep 
to a corner with my little hear,t broken, and weep all 

■alone., Gne time?— remember? the Three Kings brought 

me" a big doll that moved its eyes and its arms and said ma- 
ma, papa. But I had- that doll only for an instant because 
you took it frr.m me too, and I wept like never before. 
Oh, "I wanted to -die, I couldn't explain such an injustice 
to myself. But afterwards I forgot all about it. Child- 
ren do not hold grudges. Then the years passed — and now 
I understand. , It was not Mama but life itself that Is 
unjust. It breaks all your illusions, even tne poor little 
lamp you need to light y°u when you are unhappy... 

MARINA . •> -. 

(vainljr pretending not to understand) Childhood silli- 
ness 1 Why make such a fuss over it? All children. are 
selfish. (Aside; Does she know or does she suspect?) 
Besides, I always gave you back the toys I took from you. 

Yes, — -after you had broken them, like that doll... -- 

No, Gabriela., nfci I gave them back to you unbroken^. 

(Seeing Don KARCISO qoming, 
she quickly leaves the room 
through door at right. ) 

- 25 - 

Here I am, back. 

Why do late? I worried waiting for youi 

Why, my child? What does my dear niece want from her 

old uncle? (Looking at her more closely) But what's 
the matter? You have been crying. Yes, tell me what has 
happened . 

Nothing. We were talking about Mama, who, four years 
ago today, left us orphans. 

(sitting down) But why ay. these memories? You raja's t 
want to make yourself suffer- - Look, I am going to scold 
you as if you were a little girl again. 

Yes, do scold me as if I were a little girl, I want to be, 
pne again, to retreat into the cradle, to dream that I 
have many, many toys and nobody to take them away from 

me I 


But what is this, Gabriela? My child, you are not well 
look, I am going to call Andres. 

Oh, please don't call him. (Making an effort to smile) 
I'm. not crying any more — look. 


Efo, Gabriela, you can't deceive me. A storm ra&es inside 
you. Tell me your troubles, my child, and this old man 
will go to the ends of the earth to find a remedy ixfiHsx 
for them. If you try to hide them from me, I shall think 
that you do not love me. 


You're the only one I have in the world! Love me auch, 
Tio Narciso, very much. I need-* — if I am to go on living — 

- 26 - 

Gabriela, for God's sake— you will have me crying)? 

Then cry — cjry with me so I, won't be along in my grief. 
How good you are. How you love me. The others have n& 

Open your heart to me, Gabriela. If not, you will hurt 
me deeply. Sorrow, when shared, becomes lighter - 

Yes, yes, I will speak — but" you shouldn't leave me. 
This life is a greajt burden and I need a good love like 
yours to lean on. 


What has happened, my child? 

G..BRIEI4 ^ 
You must haye known and you never told me. I was being 
robbed of love, and you knew it raocita and kept quiet. 

I know what you refer to . But there are no proofs .♦ £ny- 
'way, it is a mere trifle; not worth bothering about. 

It is all my -life, Tio Narciso. 

Very well—but no reason to work yourself up like t,his, 
frightening those who love you. I can understand how,* 
in this state of mind, you have been able to torment 
yourself because of a' mere suspicion. 

No, Tio Narciso. It is not a suspicion. 

Then, it is a calumny, mere envy of your happiness. 
Nobody has any proofs . 


I do. 

- 27 - 


rinpD.§sil>l&S alt's not half an hour since I came. With 
whom have you been talking since then? 

¥ ith no one. But they hwve been so careless and I have 
seen them. Yes, I surprised them in each other's arms, 
Marina and Andres, and so drunk with their joy they did 
not even notice my presence. Ah — and they were speaking 
of their love and — yes, I remember — of a child also, a 
son, their son'. 

My Gqd— what are you saying'. Gabriela, you are delirious r 

It's not delirium, no. It's the brutal truth tearing away 
tfefels. Andres had no pity. He stormed this fortress and 
destroyed it. Oh, I can't breathe! Love... It doesn't 
matter now... Air, air, Tio-Narciso! I'm choking! I for- 
give them... Mother, Mother, forgive me for believing 
you were unjust'. You never were. It is life itself that 
is cruel... 

9 (She. collapses in Don Naricso's 

arms . ) 

Gabriela! Oh, my God! ( KfeBKjfecBgiesMBSfcBS&c (he feels 
her heart) She is dead! (shouting) Marina! Andres! 
(He lays the dead woman on the Sofa) Murderers! 

(Enter running, ^MARINA from righfe 
Andres from left.) 

What happened? She has had another attack! Gabriela! 

Gabriela! My sister! 


(wardin off both of them) You, no. It is too late. 

Dead? (He flings himsslf upon the dean woman; Marina 
kneels down beside the sofa) 

-28 - 

Useless now your science. Andres, and your pity, Marina, 
with which you can give de^th but hot life. Your inauity 
has been so brazen'. 

God, forgive me 1 . Forgive me, Gabrielai 

(Andres sobs, holding the dead 
woman's hands in his) 

But Gab'riela,died as she lived, without a word of hate 
for those who killed her, loving and forgiving them. 
Marina, let us go away from here. God have mercy' on you, 
Andres ; and pray that your worst punishment shall not be 
to go wttagtering through the world, feeling as though you 
carried on your shoulders, hour after hour, the unburied 
body of your wife. < 

9 (Marina staggers up, sobbing and 

follows Don Narciso to the door 
Andres springs up and runs after 
them . ) 

(imploringly) TionNarciso, Marina — do not leave me 
alone I I am afraid. 

•(The room has been steadily 

(mockingly) They are merely shadows and phantoms, 
Andrea". They never scared you, Marina must ncfct remain 
a minute longer here--in this house that was the clean 
home of your marriage, and which you turned into the 
theatre of your treachery, and that is now a house of 
death. AH abyss has opened between you and Marina. No 
it is not Gabriela's heart — that weak fortress, so easy 
to conquer and betray. It is death, mistress of thw 
world {: Come Marina i 

(Exeunt Dam Narciso and Marina 
The room is now in darkness. 
Andress stands gazing at the 
body of his wife. ) 

- 29 - 

Gabriela, .forgive me.... (Falling on his knees and 
clasping bis hands together) Lord, you have conquered 1 . 
They were not shadows, not phantomes; they were your 
commandments!-- your laws for all- eternity! (glancing 
around him in terror) Alone, God! Alone in the 

He buries his face in his hands as